Sugar Land, TX - Sugar Land City Council approved a
resolution on Tuesday supporting proposed legislation that would allow Fort
Bend County to own and maintain an historic cemetery.
The Texas Legislature is now considering House Bill 4179,
a bill that would allow Fort Bend County to provide perpetual care for the
remains of 95 people buried on property owned by Fort Bend ISD.
The school district informed the city that human remains
were found on a school construction site during February 2018. It was later
determined that the bodies were former prisoners who were part of the state of
Texas' convict leasing program.
Events that occurred after the discovery follow:
* July 2018: City
leaders met with representatives of the Texas Slave Descendants Society - now
called the Convict Leasing and Labor Project - to discuss preliminary plans for
the relocation of the remains to the city's cemetery and conceptual ideas for
enhancing and memorializing the cemetery.
* August 2018:
Sugar Land City Council approved a memorandum of understanding for the possible
future relocation of the 95 bodies to the city's Old Imperial Prison Farm
Cemetery. Read more at www.sugarlandtx.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1180.
Sugar Land City Manager Allen Bogard appointed a task force to provide
community input and recommendations regarding reinterment, memorialization and
public education. Read more at www.sugarlandtx.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1191.
* September 2018:
The City Manager's Task Force on the Convict Lease Memorial met for the first
time and unanimously supported DNA testing.
* October 2018:
Additional meetings of the task force took place at Sugar Land City Hall. The task force recommended two options. Their
first choice was to reinter the historical remains on the site where they were
found. If the first option was not possible due to legal restrictions, the task
force recommended re-interment of the remains at a nearby historic cemetery
owned and maintained by the city of Sugar Land. The city of Sugar Land
previously worked with the state of Texas to have its cemetery designated as an
2018: Sugar Land City Council approved
an interlocal agreement with Fort Bend ISD to honor and preserve the memory of
victims of the state's convict leasing program. Sugar Land's interlocal
agreement with Fort Bend ISD provided the option for the school district to
reinter historic remains at the city's cemetery if they chose to do so. The decision continues to be the legal
responsibility of Fort Bend ISD.
* November 2018:
The task force's work concluded. Fort Bend ISD assumed leadership of the group,
which was to be restructured to serve as an advisory committee for the school
2019: The city closely monitored the
progress of a judge's deliberation on Fort Bend ISD's recommendation for the
possible relocation of historic bodies found buried on school district
property. Once the judge issued a ruling, the city was and still is ready to
assist as needed and support the school district and community with
memorialization and educational efforts.
* March 2019: The
city of Sugar Land is partnering with Fort Bend ISD and Fort Bend County to
support legislative efforts to find a legal way to allow the county to operate
a cemetery on land currently owned by the school district, reinter remains on
the site and memorialize 95 people lost to history. The disposition of the
remains is the legal responsibility of the school district, and they have
decided to reinter the remains where they were found if legally possible.
"We're looking forward to partnering with Fort Bend
County, the school district and the community to support efforts to honor the
memory of these 95 people," said Assistant City Manager Doug Brinkley.
"We also remain committed to working with Fort Bend ISD and the community
to build on educational and historic preservation efforts implemented by the
city in the past. Ensuring this part of our history is never forgotten is much
larger than our community; it's the story of our state and nation. We've
started the process with past efforts, but we think there's an opportunity to
For more information about the city's supporting role in
Fort Bend ISD's efforts to reinter people found buried at a school construction
site, resources on the state's convict lease program and the city's historical
preservation efforts, visit www.sugarlandtx.gov/ConvictLeaseMemorial,